Earthlings of the North End Rotary Club gathered at La Fonda Restaurant on Tuesday to hear Mark Schauer speak about the possibility of other-world visitors at Yuma Proving Ground.
“There are going to be two UFOs in this talk,” said Schauer, a public relations specialist at YPG.
The incidents in question happened in 1952. On April, 17, 13 soldiers on a field familiarization hike three miles south of what was then called Yuma Test Station, spotted a white object dart through the sky with a vapor trail at around 3 p.m.
The group was unable to get information with instruments at hand at that moment or for a second incident a few days later. On April 26, a report was made to YTS command and made its way up to U.S. Army Air Corps Command at Patterson Air Base. But why did such an incident garner interest at such a high level?
Schauer hypothesizes that the answer lies in the historical moment during which the soldiers were living.
“I think it was that particular moment in history,” he said.
Schauer detailed how rocket scientists in Nazi Germany began to build a rocket that was thought capable of reaching U.S. shores in 1940. Such fears of a long range missile attack were only amplified after the end of World War II when the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics became the primary adversary of the U.S. in a period that became known as the Cold War.
“The fear of these men was that they were seeing tests of Intercontinental Balistic Missiles being shot from the Ural Mountains in Russia,” he said.
However, the Semyorka Missile — the U.S.S.R’s first ICBM — was not tested until May 1957, a month before the Atlas Rocket — the U.S. response to the Semyorka — was tested.
One clue was found from an earlier incident at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. There, an incident in April 1950 where the observers were able to capture readings on their instrumentation, left some tantalizing clues.
The object was flying at an altitude around 150,000 feet in the air and at a high rate of speed.
Schauer went through a number of armaments it was suspected of being but there was only one that came close to being a possibility, and that appeared to fall short of the mark in his eyes.
“One thing it could’ve been was the Honest John, the first nuclear capable surface-to-surface missile in the U.S. military,” he said. “It carried a war head that was about 20 mega tons in size, Hiroshima was 15 mega tons.
“But it only had a range of 15 miles,” he continued. “Theoretically, it could’ve been Honest John but in all probability it was not.”
However, Schauer said it was most likely the Lyrid Meteor Shower, a cosmic show that happens annually approximately between April 16 and April 25. Its existence has been known since the seventh century B.C., according to Schauer.
“It was probably a meteor,” he said. “But there was a fear that it was an ICBM from Russia.”
With the progression of the Space Race and the Soviet launching of Sputnik — the first ever man-made satelite in space — in 1957, as well as the recent events of the Second World War, Korean War and a fear of Communism, probably led to such high-level interest.
“Before too much longer, the idea of ICBM’s permeated daily life in the U.S.,” said Schauer, showing a slide of toys for children that were modeled on nuclear missiles.
As for the investigation, the paper trailed ended with no clear indication as to what the Army believed the YPG UFO to be.
“There was no determination,” said Schauer. “I suspect that they probably thought it was just a meteor.
“It was probably an out of this world visitor but not an intelligent one,” he continued, “just a meteor.”
“I wish they were little green men,” giggled one audience member in a hushed whisper.